Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada

the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Space Between Us

Zoya Pirzad

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Space Between Us

Title: The Space Between Us
Author: Zoya Pirzad
Genre: Novel
Written: 1998 (Emg. 2014)
Length: 136 pages
Original in: Persian
Availability: The Space Between Us - US
The Space Between Us - UK
The Space Between Us - Canada
Un jour avant Pâques - France
  • Persian title: یک روز مانده به عید پاک
  • Translated by Amy Motlagh

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B+ : beautifully restrained but rich little novel

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Daily Mail . 13/2/2014 Elizabeth Buchan
L'Express . 31/8/2008 André Clavel

  From the Reviews:
  • "The Space Between Us is slight, but rich in allusion and suggestion. The prize-winning Iranian-Armenian author is less concerned with a straightforward narrative as with the desire to encapsulate the important things which are left unsaid and undone. These are what haunt her story." - Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail

  • "Aux douleurs et aux désillusions du monde adulte, ce roman oppose les miracles de l'enfance, mais c'est aussi un voyage quasi ethnographique dans un Iran oublié que nous offre Zoyâ Pirzâd. Avec une prose débordante de nostalgie, sensuelle, attentive aux détails, aussi délicate qu'une miniature persane." - André Clavel, L'Express

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       The Space Between Us is a short novel narrated by Edmond Lazarian, each of its three parts set around Easter, years apart. (The original Persian title is 'One Day Before Easter'.) Edmond's family is part of the large Armenian community living in Iran.
       The first part, 'Sour Cherry Stones', is set when Edmond is a twelve-year-old schoolboy, growing up in a "small coastal town" (presumably on the Caspian Sea). The local church is across the way, and the school is Armenian; the community almost entirely Christian -- though not the family of the school janitor. Edmond is close friends with "the Muslim janitor's daughter", Tahereh, who is also a classmate -- and excels at school, including in Armenian.
       The second part, 'Seashells', is set years later, in Tehran, where Edmond is now principal of the Adab Armenian School. He is married, to Martha, and they have a nearly-grown daughter, Alenush. The focus here is on Alenush's announcement that she and her boyfriend, Behzad, have decided to marry. The fact that Behzad is not Armenian is devastating to Martha.
       The final part, 'White Violets', jumps ahead yet again quite a few years. Alenush now lives abroad, and while Edmond is still the principal at his school, it is his vice-principal Danique who mostly handles the job now. Danique came to Tehran from Tabriz, and became a close friend of Martha's after taking the job at the school, even though they are very different, and from childhood on Alenush adored her auntie.
       Each part deals both with the relationships between men and women, especially husbands and wives, while also addressing the issue of love and marriage outside one's community. For the Armenian community \which Edmond's family is a close part of, marriage outside it, to a "non-Armenian" is almost unthinkable -- and, for example:

     Years before, when the daughter of one of our relatives had married an Englishman, Grandmother and Auntie Shakeh had refused to visit them until the birth of their daughter.
       When he is twelve, Tahereh's otherness is still indistinct to Edmond. She also balances her worlds -- including with two necklaces, one with a cross, one with a small Allah-figure:
For school and church, I wear the cross. For prayers, it's Allah.
       In the final part we learn of what drove Danique to Tehran -- something that she never shares directly with Edmond. It, too, has to do with loving the wrong kind of man -- and it is only Edmond's firm support of her that prevents this from destroying her life in Tehran as well.
       Meanwhile, various marriages show tension, including those of both Edmond's and Tahereh's parents, with Tahereh miserable about her father beating her and her mother. Meanwhile, there are some surprisingly strong bonds across generations, notably between Alenush and her grandmother, even as from early on Alenush always seems at odds with Martha.
       Much in The Space Between Us is presented obliquely, with little direct confrontation and, especially, with fall-out and consequences only revealed at some remove. Restrained, the narrative does not wallow in the conflicts it presents -- a very effective presentation that, even in such limited space gives a great sense of distance, both in time and relationships; 'the space between us' is, indeed, an appropriate (alternate) title for the novel. It's very nicely done, making for a lovely, melancholy tale that hits almost no wrong notes, with Pirzad saying and showing just enough, and not succumbing to the all too common temptation of showing and explaining far too much.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 April 2023

- Return to top of the page -


The Space Between Us: Reviews: Other books by Zoya Pirzad under review: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Iranian author Zoya Pirzad (زويا پيرزاد) was born in 1952.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2023 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links